MARQUETTE, Mich. — Senior forward Fred Mattersdorfer scored 11:54 into overtime Friday, lifting fifth-seeded Northern Michigan to a 3-2 win over Western Michigan in Game One of their best-of-three CCHA playoff series.
The Wildcats needed a late third-period goal to tie the game at 2 and force an overtime period. Jimmy Jackson’s coast-to-coast, power-play marker gave NMU that key tally with just 3:33 to play.
Northern Michigan almost ended the game minutes later, when Mike Sandbeck hit a post on a beautiful scoring chance in the game’s closing seconds.
The Wildcats outshot Western, 30-28, as Dan Ragusett stopped 26 in net for NMU and Jeff Reynaert made 27 saves for the Broncos.
A strong second period, which included two straight Western goals, turned the tide in favor of the Broncos after Northern Michigan had controlled much of the game’s early action.
Dan Donnette gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 12:57 of the first, scoring with assists to Chad Theuer and Ryan Riipi.
But Western answered, as Dana Lattery and Mike Bishai each scored second-period goals to give the Broncos a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
After 41 total shots in the first two periods, both teams clamped down, allowing a total of just six during the third.
But one of those six found the back of the net, when Jackson took the puck the length of the ice after a shorthanded Bronco clearing pass, and went on to beat Reynaert and even the game at 2. Ragusett received an assist on the play, his second in the last two games.
Referee Brent Rutherford gave the Wildcats another power play with 1:04 remaining in the third, and NMU nearly converted when Sandbeck hit the pipe with just three seconds left.
After nearly 12 minutes of extra time, Theuer won a faceoff to Mattersdorder, who beat Reynaert cleanly between the pads to win the game.
The two teams will meet again for Game Two at 7:05 p.m. Eastern on Saturday at the Berry Events Center.